George Lindsey said he was Hollywood's favorite second choice
Lindsey lost out on a role to Nabors, but still made it to Mayberry anyway.
George Lindsey was best known for his role as Goober on The Andy Griffith Show (1960). Goober is remembered as a simple-minded, good-natured character with a distinctive Southern accent and charm.
Although the Griffith Show character was a favorite among many Mayberry fans, Lindsey originally wanted a much bigger role. Before Goober, Lindsey was going for Gomer.
He went right down to the finish line with Jim Nabors, who was eventually chosen for the role of Gomer on Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964). Gomer Pyle started as a popular guest character on The Andy Griffith Show during the series' first few seasons.
So, how did Lindsey go from coming in as a runner-up to working at Wally's Filling Station in Mayberry? According to a 1966 interview with the Birmingham Post-Herald, at first, Lindsey thought the world was caving in on his acting dreams.
He said: "I really wanted that part of Gomer." Instead, Lindsey became one of Hollywood's favorite second choices. When Nabors graduated from The Andy Griffith Show to his own series in 1964, the producers of Griffith still remembered Lindsey.
How could you not? His memorable accent, small-town charm and adorable smile. The producers called him up one day and the next they introduced him on the series as Gomer's cousin, Goober.
"He's a hit with the audiences because there are a lot of Goobers in the world," Lindsey said about his character. "I met one just the other day, on a trip back to my home town of Jasper. I was all dressed up in city duds and this fellow came up to me and said 'How do you get them shoes to shine like that?' I recognized him immediately. He was Goober."
This classic Southern boy was perfect to play the role of Goober, and some may argue Gomer, too. His impact as an actor was so big it led to him gaining the attention of the producers, and suddenly this second choice was given a second chance.
The producers weren't the only ones to remember Goober. Andy Griffith Show fans rallied behind the character and led him to success.
In a very small-town fashion, Lindsey said he only grew up 50 miles away from Nabors. Little did he know that his future competition for a part in a big city like Hollywood was just down the street from him.
Lindsey said most of the actors playing the small parts were real small-town people who were attached to their characters. He was no exception. Goober was part of who he was, and the role gave him his second chance at success.
"I really wouldn't mind playing Goober the rest of my life," Lindsey said. "He's real, a slice of life. He may be the town dope, but he's a really complicated fellow."